Louis XIV, the San Diego-birthed agitators best known for their 2005 single “Find Out True Love Is Blind,” had laid out plans for a fun spring before two world-changing events occurred. They had five reunion shows scheduled to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of their album “The Best Little Secrets Are Kept,” but guitarist Brian Karscig’s new baby, Jojo, arrived early. And then the pandemic hit. “Little Jojo probably saved us from getting sick during those first shows, so she will always be a savior to us,” frontman Jason Hill says. “A little protective angel.”
At the time, they already had teased some new Louis XIV music, releasing the sticky romp “Playtime” in February. Made at Hill’s Department of Recording and Power in L.A., it’s one of several new songs on the back burner, but first there’s the music video for “Playtime,” Hill’s first dalliance in the form.
“I just started messing about with my camera and went to several used book stores looking for old magazines and books to cut up, snipping around in my own collection, and I started making the video,” he says. “Never having done a stop animation video before, I found it was just another creative way to fiddle and tinker. It actually took me about a month to make, as the process is a time-consuming one, but a blast as well.” Mark Leone added a helping hand, and Aaron Eisenberg did the editing. So … sound the horns; the song certainly does.
“Playtime” emerged from an idea Hill had while “tinkering around on the piano” with drummer Sean Payne of the Zutons. “When he left, I wrote the chorus and instantly thought I should call Brian to collaborate and make it the first Louis XIV song in almost a decade,” Hill said. “It seemed like a good place to start.”
Although Karscig is based in San Diego and Hill in L.A., the pair felt that enough time had passed since Louis XIV’s fractious breakup in 2009 that making new music could be fun again. “Brian and I had drifted for a little while after Louis XIV initially broke up, exhausted from a heavy year of touring,” Hill says. “We had all just had it with each other, the touring, and the business of music.”
Even a short reunion tour of Europe and Mexico in 2012 proved to be a bumpy ride. “It was strained by personal problems and some tensions between us … culminating in a blowout fight in Amsterdam,” Hill recalls. “Brian and I finished the last leg, four enormous Mexico shows with a different rhythm section including John Pancoast on bass and Jet’s Chris Cester on drums. It was thrown together quickly and it was hard playing in front of 56,000 people in Mexico City with an unrehearsed band. But it was also a huge amount of fun and sense of freedom. I can still feel the stage shaking underneath us from all of those people.”
Karscig went on to form the Nervous Wreckords (and was a touring player in the Killers in 2016), while Hill released music in Vicky Cryer, worked as a producer, co-writer and film composer and, last year, unveiled his first solo single.
Fast-forward to last year and Karscig’s visit to Hill’s L.A. studio, and the principals found their old mojo. “We just fell back into it and wrote and recorded the rest of ‘Playtime’ with ease,” Hill says. “Just like old times, we laughed the whole way through it. That is the wonderful thing about working with Brian and all the Louis XIV records: We’d spend half the time laughing, and often laughing can literally be heard on those records.”
Another new song, “Sake,” might come later in the year. With their reunion shows on hold, Louis XIV is also talking about releasing a B-sides collection.
||| Watch: The video for “Playtime”